Wedding & Marriage Customs
Flowers for Mary
A very common tradition at weddings is for a bride to present flowers to Mary after the reception of Holy Communion. The bride is often accompanied by her groom to Mary’s altar while a Marian hymn, such as the Ave Maria is sung where she places a bouquet of flowers on the altar and offers a brief prayer.
This custom dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and is known throughout Europe and America. In this gesture, the bride offers her maidenhood to the Blessed Virgin Mary and asks her intercession for a fruitful spousal love. It honors Mary as both virgin and mother and is a sign of the bride’s trust in Mary’s intercession.
Here are some Ave Maria choral settings:
Gregorian chant (12th century) / https://youtu.be/YzDYEGPMauo
Arcadelt, Jacques (1550) / https://youtu.be/yjAiGMAUQto
Scapin, Massimo (2022) / https://youtu.be/v9vkbheYa34
Stravinsky, Igor (1935) / https://youtu.be/aJW7Sc-NykQ
Victoria, Tomas Luis de (1580) / Ave Maria https://youtu.be/78s6zQP-zRs
Blessing of Rings
The custom of exchanging rings between husband and wife dates back to at least the 7th century AD and is a symbol of the union of two hearts and of the spouses’ mutual fidelity. Different countries developed different traditions about which hand the rings should be placed on. In some places, the ring is placed on the right hand because of the right hand most often being the dominant hand. Other places developed the custom of placing the ring ong the third finger of the left hand because of a Renaissance belief that a vein ran straight from that finger to the heart.
The blessing of the rings developed in the 11tth and 12th centuries. The current blessing emphasizes the rings as a sign of love and fidelity.
The tradition of a special blessing upon a newly-married couple dates back to the earliest centuries of the Church. The nuptial blessing takes place during the wedding liturgy immediately after the Our Father. It is a solemn blessing upon the newly-married couple, through which “the spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of the love of Christ and the Church” (CCC 1624). It begins by asking the Lord to “mercifully pour out the blessing of his grace and make of one heart in love those he has joined by a holy covenant.”
The nuptial blessing places the marriage within the wider plan of creation, describes marriage as an image of Christ’s covenant with His Church, formally invokes the Holy Spirit to come down upon the couple, then invokes a blessing upon each spouse in particular. It is an inseparable part of of the Rite of Marriage and its place immediately after the Our Father shows the importance the Church places on this blessing.
In many hispanic and filipino weddings, the uniting of the couple with a lasso or cord, often a large rosary, is a powerful image of the unification and intertwining of the lives of bride and groom. It takes place before the Nuptial Blessing when someone, often the witnesses (el padrino and la madrina) wrap the lasso around the couple’s shoulders and hands. The couple wears the lasso throughout the remainder of the service.
This act symbolizes the unifying of the couple in marriage for the rest of their lives. They must share responsibility for the family now. The figure eight that the lasso is tied in symbolizes infinity, the unconditional nature of the couple’s love, and also a new beginning (like the eighth day of creation).
After the wedding, the lasso is kept in a special place in the home as a reminder of their love and the “yoke of marriage.”
Photo from G Photography and Films (@Latinmassphotographer)
In Latino and Filipino cultures, the medieval custom of the Arras survives to the present day. The giving of coins at the beginning of an engagement was seen as “earnest money,” or a promise to follow through with the wedding, or else the “deposit” was forfeited.
In the present day, the giving of thirteen coins (representing both the twelve months of the year and also something for the poor, along with Christ and His twelve apostles) by the groom to the bride represents the groom’s promise to provide for his wife and children, along with the bride’s trust in her groom’s ability and desire to provide for her.
During the Catholic wedding ceremony, for cultures where the handing overt of the Arras is observed, it takes place after the exchange of vows and rings. The coins are blessed by the priest or deacon and the bride and groom promise that “all that I have is yours, and all that you have is mine.”
The tradition of reciting the marriage vows while holding hands together on a crucifix originates in Croatia. A couple has a crucifix blessed and then when the time comes to exchange their vows, the bride puts her right hand on the crucifix and the groom puts his hand on hers, so that both hands are joined together on the crucifix. Then, instead of kissing each other, the couple kisses the cross.
This acts as a stark reminder that marriage is indeed a cross in many ways, but it is also the avenue to salvation for the spouses. If one were to run from the difficulties that every marriage entails, one would also be running from the cross.
After the wedding, the couple places this cross in a place of prominence in the home. When difficulties arise, the couple can then pray together before the cross and unite their sufferings and difficulties with the sufferings of Christ.
Photo from G Photography and Films (@Latinmassphotographer)
Enthronement of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts
The center of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Enthronement of an image of the Sacred Heart in the home. The Enthroned image of the Sacred Heart, expresses Christ’s true Kingship, daily reminding each member of the family to follow in His royal way by making reparation for sins committed and by striving to serve God and neighbor more lovingly. By the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart, we link the tabernacle of our parish church to our home, inviting Our Lord to be our constant and most intimate Companion. The Enthronement is a way of life. It means that Christ is King of our hearts, and that we desire Him to be present with us always. By the Enthronement, we signify our desire to make our hearts and our homes holy, to sanctify our lives in every aspect.
The practice of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the home was begun by Father Mateo Crawley- Boevey, SS.CC (1875-1961), the great Apostle of the Enthronement... He insisted on the official and social recognition of the rule of the Sacred Heart of Jesus over the Christian Family. The Enthronement is social because Christ’s Kingship involves every member of the household in which we live and all our relationships with others, inside and outside the home. Those who carry out the Enthronement inevitably comment on the difference it makes in the relationships of the family members with one another and with others.
The enthronement includes necessarily our Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Enthronement without Consecration would simply amount to the placing of a sacred image in a prominent place in the home. It would be a good and pious practice, but it would not transform lives in the way that the Enthronement, together with Consecration, does. The Consecration is a “setting apart,” a formal dedication of oneself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It involves a total offering of oneself to Him, along with the promise of fidelity in the future.
Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in a newly-married couple’s first home together is a wonderful way to dedicate their family to the Sacred Heart from its very beginning.
To set up an enthronement, contact the parish office.
“On the day of your wedding, so long past, grace was laid up in your souls through the sacrament which you administered to each other. Today you stand before the world as a striking testimony of what God’s grace, conferred in matrimony, can effect in the husband and wife who will work along with the divine treasure that is in them.” These words form part of the allocution on the occasion of blessing for a wedding anniversary.
What more appropriate way to give thanks to God for years of marriage than to receive the Church’s blessing and return to the altar where a couple began their life together?
The blessing is most often sought for the silver (25 years) or golden (50 years) anniversary, but may appropriately be sought at other major anniversaries.
If a major anniversary is approaching and you wish to receive the anniversary blessing, contact the parish office a month or two before the date. You’ll be asked to provide a copy of your marriage certificate issued by your church of marriage.
The Rite of Betrothal is a promise to marry and a blessing upon a couple as they prepare for marriage.
It begins with an exhortation by a priest to prepare well for their marriage. Then follows an exchange of promises to love and support each other before God as they prepare for marriage, the priest then blesses the couple and the engagement ring. Finally, the couple kiss an image of the crucifixion from the missal as a reminder to take up the cross together and they sign a betrothal certificate.
Any couple who is preparing for marriage may undergo the rite of betrothal once their freedom to marry has been established.
Please contact the parish office to set up a betrothal.